Culture

Hecho en México

Celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe with this delicious Mexican chocolate cake

There are three Mexican imports that I love: the cuisine, Our Lady of Guadalupe and chocolate. And December is that time of year for the Mexican people when all three are featured together rather nicely a couple of weeks before Christmas.

European seeds, American harvest

Thanksgiving is one of the most purely and authentically American of holidays. Outside of the United States, it is very seldom recognized. And yet, with its origins tracing to the earliest of European settlers, there are elements of the Thanksgiving harvest that stem from European customs that have been going strong since the Middle Ages.

The most notable link between the New World holiday of today and the customs of ancient Europe relates to the feast of St. Martin of Tours, held on Nov. 11.

Something to offer

Jesus loves the poor. Scripture doesn’t just mention that fact; it repeats it over and over in myriad ways. “When you did it to one of the least of my brethren here, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40) “It is easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye, than for a man to enter the kingdom of God when he is rich.” (Mark 10:25) “This poor widow has put in more than all those others who have put offerings into the treasury.” (Mark 12:43) etc. Jesus connected with and spent most of his time with the poor.

A display of support

"Behind and prior to every vocation to the priesthood or the consecrated life there is always someone’s powerful and intense prayer: a grandmother’s, a grandfather’s, a mother’s, a father’s, a community’s; This is why Jesus said: ‘Pray to the Lord of the harvest,’ that is, God the Father, ‘that he might send workers for the harvest!’  (Matthew 9:38) Vocations are born in prayer and from prayer; and only in prayer can they persevere and bear fruit.” – Pope Francis

Selfish or shellfish?

I never used to like seafood. Particularly shellfish. Extra-particularly, raw shellfish. Which never presented a problem on dates because no matter what briny, subaquatic, alien thing he wanted to ingest, I had the luxury of simply ordering something else. 

A prayer for battle

Just a few months before our wedding, my husband and I attended a retreat for engaged Catholic couples. On so many levels, it was very impactful and really helped prepare us for the vocation of marriage. The amazing priest at this retreat painted a pretty powerful image in our minds – one that we have not forgotten during our life together.

A real American hero

Americans love to root for the home team. We celebrate our nation’s historical heroes and their contributions to the world. As a country, we cheered as our Olympians fought for gold in London last year. We naturally want our own to succeed and be recognized. And we saw this enthusiasm among Catholic Americans when two of our very own North American holy women were canonized saints last year by Pope Benedict XVI. And, of course, this should make us proud.

ReADVENTing a calendar

When I was a child, I was given one of those chocolate Advent calendars. It was explained to me that each day until Christmas, I was allowed one piece of chocolate behind the perforated door. Well, after eating that first piece behind door No. 1, my eyes became fixated on door No. 2. I was tempted, taunted and tortured. If discipline and patience were the intended lessons behind the gift, I was a horrible student. Within an hour after opening the first door, my Advent calendar was reduced to a torn, spent, and empty cardboard box.

Leftovers redeemed

A year ago, I prepared a last minute Thanksgiving feast for my husband, kids and myself. In the end, it was a lot of food for just four people and sure enough, we had a lot of leftovers. While I was grateful for God’s bounty, I wasn’t exactly jumping up and down at the thought of eating the same thing for the next four days. But letting even a morsel go to waste wasn’t an option, so I improvised that year and lovingly turned those mundane extras into something better.

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